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Other Forage

Find production tips on specialty or non-traditional forages – from cover crops to corn stover, and sorghums to small grains or brassicas.

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Triticale is a cross between wheat and rye, combining the quality and productivity of the former with the vigor and hardiness of the latter. It’s also a very green means of removing potentially water-polluting phosphorus right from the soil.

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Forages have been and always will be an important source of nutrients for ruminants. For dairy producers, forages are the base of the feed pyramid, the foundation on which the remainder of the diet is structured. Feeding high-quality corn increases dairy efficiency and helps reduce feed costs associated with purchased ingredients, especially protein.

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Forages are crops used as hay, silage, haylage, green chop or pasture for feeding animals. The forages or other feed ingredients are given to cows to be digested first in the rumen and second in the small intestine. When we feed cows, the feed is used by bacteria in the rumen. After the feeds are utilized by the bacteria and other microorganisms then byproducts of bacterial fermentation and other ruminal digesta flow down to the small intestine where they are digested and absorbed. The digesta in the small intestine is broken down and absorbed into the cow’s body to be used as energy to maintain the cow and make milk.

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Current prices for alfalfa hay and many other feeds are causing beef and dairy producers to give fresh consideration to alternative forage sources for cattle. Kentucky bluegrass straw is a little-used feedstuff that can be successfully fed to dairy cattle; in addition, feeding bluegrass straw reduces air emissions from field burning. In the Animal Sciences Department at Washington State University, we have evaluated bluegrass straw for dairy cows in late lactation. We limited bluegrass straw to less than 15 percent of the diet for lactating dairy cows.

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Forage quality is one of the key driving factors that determine milk production, rumen health and profitability on dairy farms. The benefits of high-quality, highly digestible forages for use in dairy cattle rations is widely accepted by both dairy producers and the nutrition advisors that work with them.

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Forages are the foundation for building diets for dairy cattle. The quality of these forages directly impacts forage intake, animal performance and ultimately profitability. As the quality of forages decline, consumption of that forage decreases and the amount of grain or byproducts which must be fed increases. The cost for a unit of performance increases or the animal cannot perform (i.e., milk or gain) to the optimum level, lowering profitability to the animal owner. These relationships are especially true with young and high-performance ruminants, such as high-producing dairy cows.

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